School districts take precautions for student athletes in the heat


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Chief Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 6:58 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 12 at 11:30 AM

AUSTIN -- Triple digit temperatures are in the forecast this week as high school student athletes get back to practice.

Practice picked up Monday morning for Round Rock ISD football teams and marching bands.

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) says it monitors and regulates school activities during the summer. It limits districts to practice sessions that last no longer than three hours.

Students at McNeil High School came to campus around 7 a.m. to get a full practice in before the heat of the day. District Athletic Director Dwayne Weirich says Round Rock ISD hasn't seen any immediate health problems linked to heat, but it’s taking precautions to keep it that way.

The district developed a four-part plan including education, acclimation, hydration and monitoring. Weirich says coaches are trained to look for warning signs of heat exhaustion.

There are also two licensed trainers on each campus and cooling stations at each practice in case a student gets over heated. Weirich says students take water breaks throughout practice and are worked slowly until they’re acclimated to the heat.

“The reality is the Texas heat. That can't be avoided. There's just so much time to get things done prior to when the schedule says it's time to kick it off. We're practicing in the mornings to avoid the heat as long as we can,” explained Weirich.

Similar precautions are taken for other student groups as well as marching bands. At McNeil, band members lined up and marched on black pavement Monday morning. They took frequent breaks for water and shade.

In past years schools would often host two-a-day practice sessions for students, which included workouts in the morning and again in the afternoon. The two-a-day sessions are still allowed but the UIL enforced limitations. For example, a school can't host a two-a-day session on back to back days. And the second workout of the day can't be as strenuous.